The New Economic Reality

Now that the Syria issue has been resolved—I mean, what could go wrong with Russia and the UN now involved?—perhaps we should turn our attention back to other matters. Congress is planning more hearings on the scandals that plague this administration; Benghazi is making a comeback, as well it should. Obamacare is rumored to begin running in October with the inauguration of state exchanges. Never mind that hardly any state is prepared for this and that the law is falling apart on its own. The push to defund this monstrosity is gaining ground.

Then there’s the economy, which the administration continues to try to spin as a “recovery.” Look at the numbers, they say—the unemployment rate is now down to 7.3%. Yes, let’s look at those numbers, carefully. What they would like to hide—and the media provides them the cover they need—is that the only reason the unemployment rate is dropping is because more people than ever have given up seeking a job and are no longer counted as part of the workforce. Our labor market is now at the lowest ebb since the Carter years. Do we really want to repeat that history?

Jobless Rate Fell

If the labor market were at the same level as when Obama took office, the umemployment rate would stand closer to 11% right now. But wait, there’s more.

What they—the administration and the media—also want to hide is that the majority of jobs being created are now part-time. A major factor in this is the threat of that looming Obamacare. Employers, seeing economic armageddon for themselves in the Obamacare requirements, are reducing the number of full-time workers to a minimum. The traditional job market, in which a person enters with a lower-rung, part-time job and works his way up to full-time, is now turned on its head:

Employment Cycle

This has become the new reality, and it’s not pretty. There’s only one way out of this:

 Turn Right

But that’s going to be up to the voters. Have they learned their lesson?

Real Scandals, Legitimate Investigations

Economic SpeechThe Obama administration has found its latest theme. We’re hearing it from spokesperson Jay Carney and the president himself. Carney dismisses all questions about the plethora of scandals plaguing the administration, saying they are “fake” and “phony” scandals generated by the Republicans. President Obama yesterday, in what he billed as a major economic speech, but which most viewed as his typical campaign speech, belittled Republicans for standing in the way of economic progress and wasting the country’s time with all the attention on make-believe scandals. His exact words were “With an endless parade of distractions, political posturing, and phony scandals, Washington has taken its eye off the ball.”

Well, first of all, Mr. President, you are Washington. You have been the chief executive for nearly five years; for the first two years of your presidency, you had control of both houses of Congress. What did you do with that advantage? Obamacare, which is a wholesale disaster, and a massive stimulus bill that only stimulated government spending. The American workforce, during your tenure, has lost 7.8 million people (those are the ones who couldn’t find jobs and gave up); new workforce dropouts have outnumbered new employees by 237 to 1. Most of the new jobs added have been part-time, not full-time.

And you blame the Republicans?

About those “phony” scandals: let’s look at the facts.

Benghazi

It’s been nearly a year since that horrible event. Testimony has shown massive incompetence and an equally massive coverup connected with that incident. We now also know that survivors of the attack have been coerced into signing nondisclosure agreements and bullied into not testifying before Congress. What is the administration trying to hide? Calls for a special committee to deal with it exclusively are rising, and justly so.

IRS

Evidence is now overwhelming that the intensive investigation of conservative groups and stalling on their tax-exempt statuses was politically motivated. No longer is there any credibility that this was the work of a few rogue agents in Cincinnati. Testimony has established that it was directed from the top of the IRS in Washington, and that a political appointee, William Wilkins, who is chief counsel for the agency, was intimately involved. This same man met with the president on April 23, 2012; his boss, then-IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman, met with administration officials on April 24. The next day, April 25, Wilkins sent out more guidelines for how to handle tax-exempt applications from conservative groups. While this is still not absolute proof of collusion with the Oval Office, it comes awfully close. It’s hardly a “phony” investigation, particularly since it affected the operation of these groups in the 2012 campaign and provided a boost to Obama’s reelection bid.

There’s also the absurd waste of money on parties, etc. It’s a culture of corruption.

This Just In

DOJ

Where to start? Fast and Furious? Failure to prosecute Black Panthers who intimidated voters at a polling place? Confiscation of reporters’ phone records? Accusing James Rosen of Fox of being a criminal co-conspirator for asking questions? Funding protests against George Zimmerman? Overall racial bias in its operations? Eric Holder should be terminated as attorney general.

NSA

This one’s a little more nuanced. We do need, in my opinion, a capability to track terrorists that includes spying on their phone calls. However, what we don’t need is a blanket coverage of all American citizens, even if it’s only storage of records and nobody sees them right now. The potential for tyranny is blatant. This can become a mechanism for unprincipled politicians to get back at those who disagree with them. The NSA’s program must be limited to finding genuine threats against the nation. The House yesterday considered a bill that would have guaranteed those limits; it just barely failed to pass, and may be revisited in the near future. Above all, we must be sure our rights, as enunciated in the Bill of Rights, are not abridged.

Patriotism

So, in summary, these are not “fake” or “phony” scandals pursued for purely partisan purposes. The investigations are legitimate. The administration knows they are legitimate; they are the ones creating the distractions they so piously bemoan. They know where these investigations will lead, and they fear the backlash. As they should.

The United States of Detroit?

What happens after six decades of Democrat policies? Detroit. The city that, in 1960, had the highest per capita income in the nation and a population of 1.8 million, is now bankrupt and has lost over a million citizens, down to about 700,000. When I say Democrat policies, I’m also referring to the cozy relationship between Democrats and Big Unions. The auto industry failed for reasons that can be traced to bad decisions by management combined with concessions to union demands. That attitude carried over to the public-sector unions, whose pensions and other perks have now created greater liabilities than the tax base of Detroit can cover. City government ran huge deficits every year, refusing to cut back on spending. This coalition of Democrat politicians and union dominance spelled disaster:

Politics & Unions

Don’t misunderstand me; I’m not rejoicing over this. But it’s a valuable lesson we need to learn as a nation. Not just cities, but whole states are in the same precarious situation as Detroit now finds itself. Where will the falling dominoes end?

Dem Work Zone

We can’t see beyond California in the cartoon above, but the threat is national. At the federal government level, we’ve gone on a spending spree the last five years that has dwarfed all the deficit spending we’ve done in previous administrations. Obama and his people have attempted to spend us into prosperity; not only does that never work, but it’s logically incoherent.

All the stimulus bills in the world won’t bring prosperity. The administration tries to point to the unemployment rate as a positive indicator. Since when has 7.6% unemployment ever been a positive thing? Especially after four years of artificially pumping up the economy? What they don’t want anyone to know is that we’ve never had so many people drop out of the labor force; consequently, the 7.6% is illusory. It doesn’t count all those who have given up finding a job. Neither does it take into account those who are trying to hold things together with part-time jobs:

 Ain't So Hard

Jobs Day

Ah, but the stock market is soaring. All is right with the world. That’s another illusion. Much of the gain we’ve seen there has to do with all the money being printed. It’s artificial as well. We are quickly becoming an economic basket case. Something needs to change before we become the United States of Detroit.

The Cyprus Scare: First of Many to Come

One of the most foreboding items in the news this week was the threat that Cyprus banks were going to confiscate personal savings tax those who have savings accounts from 6.75% up to 9.9% for the wealthiest. That would mean forking over nearly 10% of one’s savings to the government in an attempt to forestall an economic crisis. The last I heard, this has been avoided by a bailout from Russia at an interest rate lower than prevailing market rates. It’s no secret that Russian mobsters are an integral part of this bailout.

Although the threat didn’t materialize, it sent shock waves around the world. What if this would set a precedent? Would other nations on the brink of financial ruin turn to this solution? Would Americans someday see their banks getting a take on their personal savings? One normally thinks of putting money in a bank to earn more, not to have it taken away. The irony of the “solution” was not lost on some of the political cartoonists:

Unsound fiscal policies have become epidemic in nations from every sector of the globe. While a bullet may have been dodged this time, don’t expect this crisis to be the last. This scenario is going to become more prominent without a course correction.

Competing Budgets

In the past few days, we’ve seen a contrast in budget proposals. Paul Ryan, on the Republican side, has come up with a plan that will repeal Obamacare—which insurance companies are informing us will lead to a possible doubling of premiums by next year—and put the country on the path to a balanced budget in ten years. The Senate Democrats have an entirely different plan, one that comports with President Obama’s vision. John Hinderaker, at the Power Line blog, explains,

After four years, Congressional Democrats have finally produced a budget. The process has proved revealing: the Democrats’ budget never balances, increases spending by 62% over ten years, and adds $7 trillion to the national debt despite raising taxes by $1.5 trillion. So Senate Democrats must agree with President Obama that the nation does not face a debt crisis. . . .

We know from the budgets he has submitted for the last four years that Obama doesn’t care about the debt, immediately or otherwise, and has no intention of addressing it, ever. His budgets contemplate nothing but huge deficits as far as the eye can see, and would add trillions to the national debt through ever-increasing spending.

House Republicans have tried repeatedly to send bills to the Senate that would help solve our financial crisis. Each time, the Senate has refused even to allow a vote—all at the behest of the White House.

As the nation slides inexorably into a massive debt that might never be stopped, the president and the Democrat leaders in the Senate are ideologically blind to the disaster that looms:

For those who choose to believe Obama’s rosy picture of financial stability, there is a surprise coming:

A pleasant surprise, it is not.

New Heights of Tackiness

While I was gone, the sequester went into effect. It was supposed to be the end of the world. Somehow, I don’t think we’re quite at the end yet, and when we do get there, it won’t be because we cut back our planned increased spending by a little over 2%. There’s nothing drastic about this, yet you wouldn’t know it from all the dire warnings emanating from the White House. But it seems to me we’ve heard this rhetoric before. For those with short memories, here’s a reminder:

Screaming “crisis” over something that is not a crisis has become standard operating procedure for this administration. There was even a proposed bill that would have given President Obama the discretion to cut back on things that were not going to affect the public directly. He didn’t support it. Why not?

The plain truth is that he wants these cuts to hurt. He wants to target those things that will annoy the public and make his subjects American citizens demand restoration of the funds. I experienced this directly when we were disembarking from our cruise ship. An announcement came over the loudspeaker saying they were just informed that the government had cut back on the number of customs agents in the terminal, so we would have to wait longer to get off the ship. A minor inconvenience, to be sure, but just enough of an annoyance to make people upset. The administration hopes they will blame the Republicans.

The most visible signal of this policy was the cancellation of White House tours. Even though the salary of the man who takes care of the president’s dog is greater than the cost of those tours, our leader chose to cut the tours instead. Sending a message and seeking political advantage seem to be behind most of his decisions. Cartoonists have picked up on the ludicrousness of this tactic:

So no school tours, but, as I noted before my cruise vacation, anyone who ponies up $500,000 can be put on a presidential advisory board. Given a choice between allowing school children to see the “People’s House” or rolling out the red carpet for donors, the president clearly has his priorities:

The cynicism of it all is rather nauseating:

Bill Clinton using the White House as a bed and breakfast for donors was tacky enough. This raises tackiness to new heights.

That Was the Week That Was

Back in the mid-1960s, NBC aired a satirical program called That Was the Week That Was. It was a look back over the events of the previous week, with political lampooning as its specialty. I don’t know why I was reminded of the program, but it did provide the idea for today’s post. In a similar vein, I now present the highlights of the past week in politics.

Item #1. Shall we begin with an event that was not supposed to be political—the Academy Awards? Of course, saying Hollywood is not political is kind of farcical on the face of it, but this annual self-congratulatory exercise was intended to stress the artistic, not the political. Yet who showed up as a surprise announcer of the winner of Best Picture but Michelle Obama. What might this mean for next year’s ceremony?

Actually, given the composition of the audience at the Academy Awards, the winners may be the same ones who grab the artistic awards.

Item #2. Are you aware that Obama has an official arm of the Democratic Party called Organizing for Action, dedicated to grassroots agitation for his agenda? Its newest tactic, which was targeted this week by a liberal, former senator Russ Feingold, is to promise anyone who donates $500,000 access to Obama via a spot on a national advisory board. This is not a conservative conspiracy theory; it has even been reported by the New York Times, which can hardly be accused of being a conservative organ of the press.

Yes, this is a different kind of presidency, but not in the way he promised.

Item #3. New Secretary of State John Kerry, as related in this blog a couple of days ago, decided to go to Berlin and give Germans a lesson on the open society by praising America’s willingness to let even neo-Nazis have complete freedom of speech. Everyone has the right to be stupid in America, he claimed. How true.

Item #4. Of course the big news of the week was the onrushing Armageddon of the Sequester Monster—or so it would seem from the president’s rhetoric:

But even he had to back off somewhat when his doomsday scenario received a ton of criticism. Hard facts began to prevail:

In Obamaworld, spending cuts are not healthy for the nation. Yet what if the opposite really is true?

What a week it was.